The Approach of University

Do you know why I haven’t written here for a while? It’s because I know what I’m like:


Apologies aside, let me tell you about my plans! I love planning. It’s like playing The Sims in my head. Except I can do it all the time, and nobody burns the kitchen down making cheese on toast.

Well, as you might know if you know me, University is approaching. I’ve probably complained about it enough that you’re aware of what I’ll be studying (German, reluctantly) and where (Exeter College, Oxford). Additionally, if you’re a creepy stalker or a family member you’ll know that term begins on the 9th of October. Before that, I’m going on a two-week holiday to Catalonia in Spain, where I’ll visit a friend in Barcelona for a long weekend and then stay at my godparents’ house in a coastal village with some other friends. They like books a lot.

But, as the French horoscope which I read last Christmas in a run-down house in central Reykjavik with a French nursery teacher, a Belgian school teacher and a German saxophonist (see? I have a point about Iceland!) said, your life will begin in October. No, really. It was that specific.

So, what do I expect University will be like?

Firstly, I expect that it’ll be a lot of work. As in, I can’t imagine how much it will be because I can’t conceptualise writing two essays a week in addition to studying a hell of a lot of dense German garbage/literary gold. I hope that the fact that I am fluent in German will help me a bit, but I know that that’s not going to be enough. Even though I’m not much looking forward to the course, there are a couple of things which I reckon I’ll be able to enjoy – expressionism, the films, the medieval text, Rilke – and I’ve had a peek at the second year modules. I am convinced that an Old Norse module will make up for any amount of pretentious blathering by Nietzsche and Thomas Mann.

My third year is a year abroad, one which is intended to perfect your German, improve your experience of the German culture and – a gift from heaven – not really count towards your degree academically. I hope that I can persuade/bully/beg enough that I may spend at least part of my year either studying or working in a Scandinavian country (Iceland, here I come), and the other half either studying Scandinavian Studies in a German University or working on a cow farm in the Alps. Not quite decided yet. Swaying toward the cow farm at the moment, though.

I’m not going to University for the course, so I’m not going to push myself to extinction. Still, I know it’ll be very much thinking and writing and twisting and pushing and crying and hopefully some really gratifying discussions and illuminating trips. I’m going to go at this like an angry bull, and I’m going to win!

Oh, and then there’s the social life.

I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people taking on too much and having a mental breakdown, or blowing hundreds of pounds on joining all the societies they’re interested in and never attending. I’ve also heard of friends who didn’t join anything and spent the year watching their toenails grow.

The result? After a vague poke through the university website, I’ve decided I will fill my spare time like this:

1) An LASR course in Spanish. Two hours a week for a year, I will learn Spanish. This is something I’ve wanted to master for a long time, and though I only started to teach myself about a week and a half ago, I think the time has come. Or should I say, llega la hora! 

2) Kayaking and Canoeing.  What sounds like more fun than splashing about the cold Thames in a wet suit? No, you don’t agree? I DO!!! When I lived in Florida, my Mum and neighbour took me kayaking a couple of times and I remember loving how close you are to the water, how smooth and small and integrated you feel, gliding through the Mangroves like a water bug. I’d love to kayak around Greenland, or down the Mississippi, or into Scotland. Also, I don’t mind falling in.

3) Shorinji Kempo. Not heard of it? I hadn’t either until I found it listed under the ‘Martial Arts’ section. A quick read-through gave me a good feeling – it’s based on what the Shaolin Monks did, but it’s non-violent and (compared to other martial arts) relatively non-competitive. It’s supposed to be almost like a dance, but it works your muscles just as any other martial art would. I used to quite like doing judo and I’ve still got my gi (the white suit). Here’s hoping it fits!

4) Music! Oxford’s music scene is very comprehensive, experimental and right up my street. I don’t want to spend the whole time there only with students from the university, so this is an awesome way of meeting other people who live in Oxford, and maybe join a group of musicians who like to have a good time playing instruments and writing songs. Even if this utopian mecca of musicians doesn’t appear, there are plenty of open-mic nights and other gigging opportunities so I’m going to sharpen up my singing and guitar playing and hopefully find a handful of others who I can play and write with.

5) Scandinavian Society. They organise Scandinavian movie nights. They love Scandinavia. There is NO reason for me not to make this club my life.

I’ve heard from so many people that the motto of the university isn’t actually Dominus Illuminatio Mea, but Work Hard, Play Hard. Sounds good to me!

Well, I guess I’ll see you on the flip-side…

xxx Fiona


  1. My college is full of Scandinavians, in my year we have two Danes, one Norwegian and a guy from Sweden. A couple of them go to Scandinavian Soc and say it is really fun 🙂 I seem to remember them shoving lots of Norwegian flags around at some point for some national day. Also they showed me this excellent Swedish film called 'The Evil', which I would recommend if you get round to it!


  2. the motto of your university – the latin one – is terrible. Sorry I have to say it :3

    Everything sounds great and I don't want to burst your bubble but seriously; don't you think it's a bit too much? As you said yourself you cannot really imagine the workload but I'm sure it won't let you have all that free time. Just a friendly suggestion.

    It's really awesome by the way that tou have all those clubs and societies. In Italy since we have no colleges, no campuses and everyone travels daily for hours to reach university we don't have such things. Here in Norway I'd say it's half way between Italy and the UK. Not that variety but there is something at least =)


  3. @Harriet 🙂

    That sounds awesome! Also, I completely forget to mention above that it will be amazingly cool to live like 5 minutes away from you and Cat next year, or do you not live in halls second year? I hope there will be at least one Harry Potter night!

    If the Swedish film is called “Ondskan” in Swedish, then I think I've seen it. I thought it was amazing, well acted, completely terrifying… and actually a bit too much for my 14-year-old self! D: I'd love to see it again, though, it's been a while.

    Scandinavians are so odd… they appear peaceful, friendly, like a country of puppies with heads filled with humor and love of nature. But then they have really high suicide rates and make things like “The Evil”, they produce bucket loads loads of crime novels, and… well we all know what happened in Norway. Not easy to define at all, them vikings! That's one of the reasons I love them.

    Yep, I totally just geeked out about Scandinavians. Again. Le sigh.


  4. @Gin

    Yes, Gin, it is! I agree! So unoriginal and uninspiring… then again, it was one of the first Universities ever so I guess it had not yet become cliche to go for such a trite motto.

    I agree about the suggestion you make. If it does turn out to be too much, I have ranked the 5 activities in order of how much I enjoy them, so it shouldn't be too hard to drop something. Obviously Scandinavian Society stays, and hopefully one of the sports because I think I'll need an energy release. However, it also depends on which sport I actually like, since they are both new to me! Spanish and Music are at the bottom because I can do them anytime, by going to Spain, or just picking up a guitar, so I don't NEED to make a regular commitment. So i definitely agree with you, though you might be surprised by how few contact hours there are. Oxford has one of the most liberal courses when it comes to time.

    Yes, I wish you could have this kind of experience too because in my opinion it is one of the best things about going to University, especially as I am not looking forward to my course as much as I would have done if… well, you know already the story 😉 I am really excited about all the opportunities which present themselves!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s